Freedom's Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era / Edition 1

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Overview

In a sweeping analysis of religion in the post-Civil War and twentieth-century South, Freedom's Coming puts race and culture at the center, describing southern Protestant cultures as both priestly and prophetic: as southern formal theology sanctified dominant political and social hierarchies, evangelical belief and practice subtly undermined them. The seeds of subversion, Paul Harvey argues, were embedded in the passionate individualism, exuberant expressive forms, and profound faith of believers in the region.

Harvey explains how black and white religious folk within and outside of mainstream religious groups formed a southern "evangelical counterculture" of Christian interracialism that challenged the theologically grounded racism pervasive among white southerners and ultimately helped to end Jim Crow in the South. Moving from the folk theology of segregation to the women who organized the Montgomery bus boycott, from the hymn-inspired freedom songs of the 1960s to the influence of black Pentecostal preachers on Elvis Presley, Harvey deploys cultural history in fresh and innovative ways and fills a decades-old need for a comprehensive history of Protestant religion and its relationship to the central question of race in the South for the postbellum and twentieth-century period.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] rich, complex book. . . . An important contribution to the history of religion and race in the South."
Anglican and Episcopal History

"Harvey has done it again. . . . An outstanding contribution to studies in American cultural and religious history."
Baptist History-Heritage

"Harvey has produced a beautifully written, detailed, and textured work that history readers will savor."
Choice

"[T]his book is a testimony to years of serious reflection on a mountain of material."
The North Carolina Historical Review

"[W]ell written and accessible to anyone interested in the questions of race and religion in the South."
The Alabama Review

"A wonderful book, useful for classes, well written and thoroughly researched."
Church History

"[H]is interpretive theme of illusive freedom proves an effective way to make religion central to the overall southern story."
— Charles Reagan Wilson, University of Mississippi, general editor of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

Foreign Affairs
At a time when politicians and policymakers are paying increased attention to religion, Harvey's survey of both white and black Christianity through post-Civil War history is an excellent introduction to the complicated mix of politics and religion that took shape in the Jim Crow years. Although conservative white Christian leaders were generally either silent or segregationist, Harvey argues that popular, high-power religion played a significant role in the rapid disintegration of racial hierarchies. Segregation was often less rigid in the steamy revival tents of the camp meeting; Pentecostal preaching in particular easily crossed back and forth across the racial divide. "Niggers and crackers be shouting everywhere together," noted one observer of a "holy roller" meeting. Elvis Presley was one of the "crackers" who attended these interracial events in the still-segregated South. The sense of common humanity and culture that young people like Presley felt as a result of these experiences was, Harvey claims, part of the reason why the walls of Jim Crow, seemingly so solid and imposing, would fall so completely, so quickly, and with relatively little bloodshed when Martin Luther King, Jr., and his followers blew Joshua's horn in the days of jubilee.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807858141
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 508,752
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Harvey is professor of history at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is author of Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists, 1865-1925 and coeditor of Themes in Religion and American Culture.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : freedom and its coming 1
Ch. 1 Redemption : religion, race, and reconstruction in the South, 1861-1900 5
Ch. 2 Freedom's struggles : southern religious Populism, progressivism, and radicalism, 1890-1955 47
Ch. 3 The color of skin was almost forgotten for the time being : racial interchange in southern religious expressive cultures 107
Ch. 4 Religion, race, and rights 169
Ch. 5 Religion, race, and the right 218
Epilogue : the evangelical belt in the contemporary South 251
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